To make it easier for park visitors to plan ahead and enjoy remote Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, the National Park Service (NPS) will soon be implementing a number of changes to improve the visitor experience.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that people want us to expand the park’s reservation system, and I’m excited that we’re able to respond,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “The reservation system will allow many visitors to plan their stays ahead of time and guarantee they have a campsite when they arrive. These changes benefit the visitor and will generate increased revenue for the NPS to reinvest in visitor services and deferred maintenance here at Big Bend.”
To reduce the frustration of driving all the way to Big Bend, only to find that all campground sites are full, the park will significantly increase the number of campsites available for reservations online via www.recreation.gov or via phone at 1-877-444-6777. Beginning 9:00 a.m. CST on January 15, 2020, two-thirds of the campsites in the Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin Campgrounds will be reservable up to 6 months in advance. One-third of the sites will remain on a first-come, first-served basis. Cottonwood Campground will continue to operate as entirely first-come, first-served.
Reservations will be available year-round, up to 6 months in advance. Following this initial phase-in period, additional backcountry sites may be added to gradually expand the opportunities available for reservation.
Camping Fee Changes
Beginning January 1, a number of changes to Big Bend National Park camping fees will be enacted. Those who already have campground reservations will not be affected. Developed campground fees will increase from $14 per night to $16 per night. Holders of the Interagency Senior Pass (U.S. citizens aged 62+) or Access Pass (permanently disabled U.S. citizens) receive 50% discounts on camping, not to include the group campsites.
The increased revenue will be utilized to provide the contracted online reservation service through www.recreation.gov, improve camping and other visitor facilities park-wide, and help reduce Big Bend’s $90 million backlog of deferred maintenance.